CONSERVATION

If we destroy the environment, it will destroy us too

In Summary

• The Tropical Cyclone Kenneth made landfall between Macomia and Quissanga killing three people on the Grand Comore Island injuring scores of others and leaving thousands displaced

•  I posit that cyclones are a direct result of man destroying and or interfering with the natural order of the environment as designed by the creator

Environment destruction fights back
Environment destruction fights back
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

I spent the last two weeks of April in one of Africa’s smallest countries called Burundi.

I was amazed at the green environment and what I thought was a very impressive forest cover. However, latest UN reports put Burundi’s forest cover at 6.7 per cent. And while this may be the case, I was told that one of the reasons Burundians embraced tree planting is their dependency on forests for their livelihood.

Firewood is the main source of energy and since they had cleared the natural forests, they have been forced to plant trees, especially the eucalyptus. It is reported that millions of hectares of natural forests are lost in the tropics every year, either through the permanent destruction of forests or through their degradation. Manmade forests have thus come to protect our future.

It was while in Burundi that cyclone Kenneth hit parts of Comoros Island and Mozambique, one month after the debilitating Idai Cyclone that destroyed the coastal town of Beira in Mozambique, parts of Zimbambwe and Malawi.

The Tropical Cyclone Kenneth made landfall between Macomia and Quissanga killing three people on the Grand Comore Island injuring scores of others and leaving thousands displaced.

This powerful cyclone destroyed thousands of homes, trees, crops, plants and killed dozens of people in Pemba town in Northern Mozambique.

Roads have been turned into rivers due to flooding and complicated aid efforts. Initial assessments point to extensive damage across the Comoros archipelago, with several villages flooded, power outages and roadblocks in the affected parts.

Intense rainfall, strong winds and thunderstorms characterised Cyclone Kenneth and will be permanent features of future cyclones. Although this is the first time that two strong tropical cyclones have hit Mozambique in the same season, with Tropical Cyclone IDAI leaving more than 600 people dead in March, these occurrences may become common in future due to you and I destroying our environment.

While we thank God for all the humanitarian agencies and aid delivered to the people of Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Comoros Island so far, we must ask what exactly causes the cyclones and how they can be prevented.

While the cyclones themselves wreak havoc and destroy not just the manmade and natural environments, I posit that cyclones are a direct result of man destroying and or interfering with the natural order of the environment as designed by the creator. Excessive clearing of forests destabilises the world's climate by releasing into the atmosphere millions of tonnes of greenhouse gasses normally stored in wood in the form of carbon. This, of course, damages the atmosphere and lead to global warming and eventually climate change whose results are what we are seining in Mozambique in the recent past.

 

Climate change, environmental degradation and global warming have been linked to this untold debilitation that is no longer common in America only but Africa also.

It has been averred that though the number of tropical storms hasn’t increased with climate change, the frequency of high-intensity ones has. More moisture in the atmosphere creates more rainfall, rising sea levels raise the damage caused by floods, and warmer seas give cyclones more energy.

It is time we all embraced environmental care and management as fronted by various individuals, groups and organiSations. Here in Kenya, we had people such as the late Prof. Wangari Mathai who championed the Greenbelt Movement and succeeded in conserving Karura Forest and planted millions of trees.

Recently, Margaret Oluoch, another environmentalist in Kisumu launched Green Anglicans Movement, a church-led initiative seeking to replant trees on the various bare Songhor Hills that separate the Luo and Kalenjin communities.

Most of these hills have been cleared for one reason or the other and we can only do better by replanting trees not just in areas of Songhor but in all parts of Kenya. We have to plant trees in our homes, on our farms, in our schools, in our churches and everywhere that a tree can grow so as to bequeath unto our children a sustainable future.

Planting and taking care of trees is important as trees utilise and store carbon in themselves providing us with a major environmental benefit by reducing global warming.

And AS they say, the solution to deforestation is if you cut down one tree, plant two more!

The author is the Communications Manager,

CMS-Africa [email protected]